Research ∕ Learning

The changing education experience

Lorcan 4 min read

The Guardian published a supplement on the ‘digital student’ the other day. There is some general context and there is a range of short pieces on specific approaches or projects. This is all written for a general audience so there is no great detail and it is quite anecdotal.
As context, there is an interview with David Melville chair of the Committee of Enquiry into the Changing Learning Experience

But perhaps the largest surprise so far is the continuing value students place on face-to-face contact, despite the time they spend on the web. This does not mean they regard teaching staff in the same way as their predecessors did. “Because web 2.0, Google, Wikipedia are all about being able to change things yourself, the expectations of learners change as a result of that,” says Melville. “Universities are beginning to notice this. There is a greater expectation from students that they are involved in the design of their education.” [Students fashion their own education | Digital student | The Guardian]

… and a general background piece ….

Technology has dramatically changed the way students experience university life, and not just in terms of the number of gadgets they own. It has affected where and how they study, helped them collaborate with each other and broken down barriers between students and teachers, social life and study. It has also given students a greater voice in the way they learn. [Academia tackles the future | Digital student | The Guardian]

Here are some snippets from specific treatments of approaches or projects …
The University of Hertfordshire has a scheme where academic staff can consult with their more savvy students about technology issues …

This is the result of a university scheme which makes use of the fact that students’ IT know-how is often superior to that of their teachers. The scheme, which began in the business school but has since expanded to other departments, provides a 15-strong helpdesk of student mentors, charged with helping lecturers sort out their IT difficulties and make better use of the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE), StudyNet, as well as advising staff on ways to make e-learning more engaging for students. [Mentors with a difference | Digital student | The Guardian]

Which leads to an interesting role reversal …

In return, students get valuable experience to put on their CVs, and an insight into the teaching and learning process. Ramsey says: “It’s tempting to say to a lecturer ‘I’ll do it for you.’ But we are there to guide. You show them better ways of doing things.” [Mentors with a difference | Digital student | The Guardian]

Podcasting features strongly in several places. There is some discussion of iTunes. Here are some numbers from the Open University …

The OU’s move onto iTunes has proved incredibly popular, with an impressive 1m downloads in its first 120 days. Its biggest hit at the moment is a podcast about evolution and Charles Darwin, followed closely by introductory Spanish. Surprisingly 87% of downloads are from outside the UK, and the bulk are downloaded by students who haven’t paid to be at the OU. “Approximately one person every minute downloads a piece of audio or video from the OU who has never even heard of us,” says Scott. [Professorial podcasts | Digital student | The Guardian]

And Oxford …

Oxford says it is delighted with its early success on iTunes. In the first two weeks of October it notched up 189,861 downloads in total. “It’s getting us such a fantastic audience,” says Carolyne Culver, the university’s head of external communications. “Stiglitz on the credit crunch used to reside on the website of one of our departments and it was getting 3-400 downloads a month. In three weeks in October it got 16,500 downloads and remains on top of the charts.” [iWonders | Digital student | The Guardian]

The use of services like iTunes or YouTube means that popularity measures can be tracked …

Seb Schmoller, chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology, says the increasing importance of star performers to universities mirrors what is happening in life generally and warns that iTunes’ success might prove a burden for superstar lecturers, who get quite a lot of email feedback from students. “People at the top of the iTunes list have found themselves completely overwhelmed by the impact that that has had on them,” he says. “Although I don’t think they’ve minded.” [Professorial podcasts | Digital student | The Guardian]

On the use of texting at the University of Wolverhampton ..

While students, 98% of whom had a mobile phone, welcomed texts containing administrative information, such as reminders about an overdue library book, their reaction to learning-related texts was mixed.

The main barrier was a cultural one: students use their mobiles for their social life and contacting family and perceive their education to be separate, according to Melas’s report. [Push the button | Digital student | The Guardian]

On e-portfolios …

Evidence is growing that e-portfolios may aid student retention, possibly because of the support and feedback elements. Initially, e-portfolios were used with students from non-standard backgrounds, such as returning learners, and those on vocational courses where reflection is important, but that is changing. Some institutions now insist on them for all students; they are useful for modular courses, and as an anti-plagiarism tool because they can help track the development of an essay. [Electronic showcase | Digital student | The Guardian]

And there is a short piece in which several students describe their practices …

I use everything a lot more since I came to university. My laptop is on all day so I can check what’s going on, what I should be doing, and so I can Google anything. [Students’ views | Digital student | The Guardian]

More from
University Futures are shaping Library Futures

University Futures are shaping Library Futures

Libraries are not ends in themselves, but serve the interests of the organizations of which they are a part. As university emphasis varies around research, education and career poles, we can expect to see libraries evolve to support those emphases more strongly.
Lorcan 8 min read

Lorcan Dempsey dot Net

The social, cultural and technological contexts of libraries, services and networks

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.